Nationally Recognized Suffragist Leaves Party
When the word suffrage is mentioned, most are reminded of the brave women who fought tirelessly for the right to vote. After the deaths of Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Stanton, the suffrage movement was at a standstill, faltering under unfocused leadership and conservative sub-organizations that only sought for the state voting rights, not federal. After finishing her Ph.D. at the University of Pennsylvania, Alice Paul became involved in the National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA). Her ideas became too radical for the rest of the NAWSA and after the foundation of the Congressional Union for Women’s Suffrage, Paul and the CUWS split from the party. The Congressional Union eventually formed the Women’s Party and after a time, the two merged to become the singular National Women’s Party (NWP) in 1917.
The National Women’s Party was known for their dramatic, nonviolent protests consisting of hunger strikes and picketing, something that Fannie Wolfson wasn’t a fan of. Wolfson was a Coushatta, Louisiana Native who became heavily involved with New Orleans suffragist groups ranging from the Equal Rights Party to the National Women’s Party. She rose quickly through the ranks and became an auditor for the NWP at a national level and State Legislation Chairman for Louisiana. As a suffragist, it is quite easy to assume that she would fight for voting rights at all costs, however, that was not the case.
As with all political parties and exercises, there are people who are ready for revolution and those who are not; Wolfson was not. With the burning of President Wilson’s letter to the suffragists, Wolfson stepped down from her position and out of the party completely to the public on November 28th. She affirmed her stance as clearly against the picketing and burning of the letters and informed the public that she would no longer be assisting in the fight to get then Senator-elect Gay’s vote for federal voting rights for women.
By leaving the National Women’s Party, Wolfson made a statement that is often hard for people to make, let alone women. By standing up for her beliefs, she was able to excise one of the things that the suffragists fought for, the voice of women in politics. Even though Wolfson left the party, the change that it was trying to bring about is still being fought for. The National Women’s Party still strives for equal rights for all, even after over a hundred years.
“Equal Rights Party Elects. Youngest Suffrage Organization in City Holds Annual Meeting.” Times-Picayune, October 12, 1917.
“Historical Overview of the National Woman’s Party,” n.d., 6.
“National Woman Suffrage Association.” History of U.S. Women’s Suffrage. Accessed November 13, 2018. http://www.crusadeforthevote.org/nwsa-organize/.
“Our Story.” NWP. Accessed November 23, 2018. https://www.nationalwomansparty.org/our-story/.
“Harris & Ewing, Washington, D.C. Pennsylvania on the Picket Line. United States Washington D.C, 1917. Photograph. https://www.loc.gov/item/mnwp000212/.
Underwood & Underwood, photographer. Feminists Leaders Honor Pioneer Suffrage Advocate. Washington D.C, 1928. Photograph. https://www.loc.gov/item/2013648104/
“Says She Took No Part In Picketing.” Times-Picayune, November 28, 1918.